Food as Art: Pearl Dragon

Restaurant: Pearl Dragon

Location: 15229 West Sunset Boulevard Westside CA 90272.  (310) 459-9790

Date: Jan 16, 2011

Cuisine: Pan Asian / Sushi

Summary: Great “new style” sushi.


Pearl Dragon is one of the few dinner restaurants in Pacific Palisades, and the only one with a full bar. For most people it has a palatable but slightly uninspired menu of pan asian goodies and an extensive repertoire of tasty but slightly overdone sushi rolls. But one of the dirty little secrets is how fun the sushi bar can be — and how talented lead sushi chef Ryo is when he strikes off the beaten path. He takes the style pioneered by Nobu Matsuhisa (REVIEW HERE) into even more radically over the top territory.

First of all, the sushi bar is unusually friendly. This is a place where half the people know each other, and the chef, and where most aren’t afraid to chat with the other half. If I have to go out to dinner locally alone I’ll pretty much always go here — as it sure beats sitting alone at a table.

I also apologize for the lame photos. I forgot my cameras and only had the iPhone 4. Considering it was nearly pitch black in here, it did a credible job.

“Miso soup.” Pretty much what you’d expect.

This cold sake was very tasty. My brother and I drank a lot of it. On occasion Ryo has “made” me do 5-7 double shots of Patron. Good thing I live so nearby.

Sunomono,” cucumbers pickled in a sweat vinegar/miso sauce.

Ryo is blow torching a “Surf and Turf” role. When I eat here I don’t like to order, but get him to just make stuff. This particular Sunday he was very busy and so he didn’t have time for his most inspired creations — still, the “quicker” fare sure was tasty.

“Halibut in ponzu, with jalepeno.” Slight varient on the Peruvian classic introduced by Nobu.

“Albacore sushi,” with at least two sauces. Sure all this saucing isn’t traditional Japanese, but it does taste pretty good.

“Seared tuna sushi,” with raw onion and what basically amounts to Italian dressing. This too works, not so far off from the classic Dutch dish of raw herring served with raw chopped onion.

“Crispy rice with spicy tuna.” These were really tasty, and the interplay of textures is fun.

“Seafood patty, nori, vinegar, other sauces.” A kind of tempura omelet ++ sauce.

“SURF & TURF. shrimp & asparagus tempura with avocado wrapped in searedrare filet mignon, topped with garlic & chopped white onion.” Decadent, crazy, but really good.

“Yellowtail, with truffle, and yuzu.” This is a more rarefied dish, and bordered on the sublime. The interplay of the fish, Unami flavors of the truffle, and the bright tang of the yuzu (Japanese lime-like citrus) was really sensational.

“Lobster roll.” This isn’t a variant that’s on the menu. Really it tasted like a lobster risotto roll. Ryo sauteed up the lobster in a lobster/Norfolk type sauce first. Pretty darn good too.

In any case, this was a very fine meal to end the weekend on, and I need to go back sometime on a less busy night, with my good camera, an empty stomach, and let Ryo really cook up some interesting stuff (he has before).

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